There are many paid and free website creation programs available on the market. One of the most popular and easy to use sites is WordPress. Not only is it a popular content management system, but the website creation software is free. It is the content management system of choice for most internet marketers. Whether you use WordPress or another site to create your membership site, there are a few steps that you will need to take first, before you can get started with building your site.
Get a Domain Name for Your Membership Site
The first thing that you need to start a membership website is a domain name. This is a fairly easy feat to accomplish and it isn’t all that expensive. There are plenty of sites where you can obtain a domain name and it should cost you no more than $15 for a year. When it comes to choosing your domain name, you want to register a “.com” name, if possible, because they are generally taken more seriously and are deemed as more international. If you have a global target market, then this is essential. Also, if possible, you want to try and include a keyword in your domain name that is relevant to your niche. For example, if you are creating a membership site that is related to training cats, then you want to include the keyword ‘cat’ as a part of the domain name. Once you decide on a name, head to one of the many registration sites and get it registered. If the name you want is already taken, you may have to try some modified variations.
Get Hosting for Your Site
In order to get your membership website up and running, you will need to register for a hosting account. Hosting is also fairly inexpensive and can generally be obtained for $10 or less per month. There are literally hundreds of companies that you can choose to host your site. There’s BlueHost, GoDaddy, and many more. The most important thing that you need to look for is a company that is reliable because the last thing that you want to have happened is your membership site crashing every other week that results in your receiving emails from angry customers who are unable to access your site. Once you’ve set up your hosting account, you will need to set up your domain name on the hosting account. If you don’t know how to do this, you can refer to your hosting company for instructions on how to accomplish this.
Get Membership Software
A good membership script or software can make your task of managing your membership site a lot easier. The main benefits that you receive from membership site software are that you will be able to easily:
• Set up multiple membership levels and periods
• Automatically block access to non-members or existing members when their time is up
• Set up drip-feeds for your content
• Auto-renew memberships
• Manage members
• Control viewable content
• Easily integrate your payment shopping cart
• Easily integrate with the most popular autoresponder software for building lists
There are plenty of membership software packages as discussed in Chapter Four. Take some time to research the various options and choose the one that has the features you require and in a price range that fits your budget.
Installing Your Membership Site Software
Once you have chosen the membership site software that will best meet your needs, you will need to install it onto your website. Since membership software varies widely, you’ll need to refer to the instructions that are provided with the software. Installing membership software is usually a pretty easy process. However, if you get stuck, in most cases, you can get support from the creators of the software. If you would rather not do this task yourself, you can always outsource the job to a freelancer.
Once everything has been installed and setup, you need to test that everything is working. You can do this by creating a test account. It is absolutely critical that you test your site prior to launching it so that you can address any issues that your potential members might have in signing up or logging on.
When you have the membership software installed and have ensured that it is properly working, then you need to work on putting together your content and payment methods, as well as customizing your site.
Customizing will include adding custom graphics, like your logo, site images, and infographics. It is critical that your site impresses your members the moment that they first log in. You want them to be amazed at the member’s area content to confirm in their mind that joining your site was a good decision for them to make.
Choose Your Payment Method
There are four major types of payment models that you can choose from: free, one-time fee, fixed period recurring, and unlimited recurring. Each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages and is appropriate for one or more kinds of membership sites.
Free memberships offer several benefits. Generally, you will set up a free membership when you want to segregate a group of subscribers from the general public. This is particularly valuable in a market where there is a lot of email abuse. Those who sign up for the free membership have indicated that they want to take a few steps beyond just being a subscriber. They want to get closer to you. Free memberships are a good way to reward better subscribers. You can provide them with free downloads that others don’t receive or ones that they must purchase. You can also offer your free members discounts that you don’t give to the general public. In short, it’s a way to create a group of super subscribers.
A membership with a one-time fee is exactly that, a single payment. It looks like a single payment product. This model is often used to sell a product that allows the customer to access the material for a limited period. Using this membership model, you can turn off access easily at the end of the specified period.
Fixed Period Recurring
A fixed period recurring membership site offers payments over a specified period. This model is appropriate when you are selling high-ticket items, limited-term courses, or when you are offering coaching programs over a limited period. As with any membership site, if something happens after the first month and they decide to discontinue using your site, you will be able to turn off those resources. You want to make sure that you have the ability to turn off access to anything that will be ongoing content. That is the primary reason for using a fixed period recurring payment on your membership site.
This payment model has become more popular in recent years. Members like knowing that there is an end to the payments they are making. You may find this will increase the number of members you can recruit.
The “traditional” membership site uses the unlimited recurring payment model. This is the payment model that you are most likely thinking of when you see “membership site.” You pay as long as you use the site. You will typically use an unlimited recurring payment model for services and for sites where you are posting content on a regular basis. This is the kind of recurring revenue that most people think about when they first consider starting a membership site. With unlimited recurring, there is no end date for the payments. If people are paying on a monthly basis, you don’t say it is a six-month membership site. Instead, they will continue paying you as long as they want to remain a member.